Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Something Funny Going On

A physicist, a chemist and an economist are stranded on an island, with nothing to eat. A can of soup washes ashore. The physicist says, "Lets smash the can open with a rock." The chemist says, "Let’s build a fire and heat the can first." The economist says, "Let’s assume that we have a can-opener..."
(attributed to) Paul Samuelson

I have a confession. I love economics jokes, the cornier the better. The strange part is that I’m not alone in this. There are a number of great websites full of economics jokes. A google search comes up with over 13,000 hits. The one above comes from one of the sites that helped get me through my PhD. When a group of economists get together it doesn’t take too long before somebody begins cracking jokes, we seem to need to laugh. Some are inside jokes, while others are self depreciating. The cartoon posted with Sunday’s blog entry is a great example, sent to me by another economist.

This got me thinking. What are jokes about other social sciences or scientists? I’ve never heard a sociologist crack a sociology joke, or a political scientist crack a poli sci joke before, though I've heard both crack economics jokes. Enter good ole google again. A search for +”sociologist jokes” turns up only 8 eight hits. +”political scientist jokes” jokes returns no hits, and +”political science jokes” only 10 hits. I was floored. Do members of other disciplines have the sense of humour removed in some mystic rite after their comps or defence?

Two possible, and very different, explanations come to mind. 1) Economics and economists are in such a position of comfort and security that they can make jokes about themselves without fear of “losing face”. Other social sciences aren’t in that comfortable position. (This was suggested by a colleague). 2) Economics (the dismal science) is uncomfortable with itself and is likely to be the subject of derision and scorn, thus makes light of itself as a defence mechanism.

The second explanation makes a little more sense to me. When you look at number of successful comedians out there, the vast majority come from some group that is “outside” in some way. Canadians in the states, people of Jewish faith, African ancestry, Latino, Italian, etc.

By the way, does anybody know any good jokes about other social sciences (new economics jokes are also welcome.)


Nessa said...

How many historians does it take to change a lightbulb?

Only one, but to tell anyone else about it you need an entire department: the historian of science to describe the development of electricity; the economic historian to describe the rise of power companies and disposable lightbulbs; the environmental historian to talk about the relationship between replacement bulbs and landfill issues; the political historian to describe the decision-making process in lightbulb replacement; and the social historian to argue about whether more lightbulbs are replaced by women or by men. Graduate students are working on the incandescant-fluorescent issue, but no publications yet.

em said...

Inspired by your blog, I started looking up jokes on sociology, but couldn’t actually find any sociologist making fun of themselves, just others making fun of them. Some of what I read was hilarious, so thanks for the inspiration to go looking. Anyway, I found a bunch of light bulb jokes based on profession….they are endless. Thought I send a few along.

Did you ever think that maybe economics can’t find humour in their actual work, hence the creation of inside jokes to offset the boring-ness? And maybe economists only hang out with each other, so they only have each other to make fun of?? You should get a sociologist to get a grant to find out.

In the other social sciences, they can study an unlimited amount of funny stuff to keep the humour up, and therefore there is no need to create jokes about themselves. Either that, or they are so concerned about being taken seriously that they can’t afford to makes jokes about themselves, they are still far too insecure and figure people will start to believe it, and it will become self fulfilling…..or maybe they are too busy laughing about the fact that they’ve convinced the world they are in fact “scientists” and can’t find the time to stop laughing to make fun of themselves….Oh, I could go on and on…..

How many archaeologists does it take to change a light bulb?
Three. One to change it while the other two argue about how old the old one is.

How many architects does it take to change a light bulb?
Just one, but he has to coordinate ten other professionals who are doing this quiet complicated task.

How many brewers does it take to change a light bulb?
Third as many as for a regular bulb.

How many carpenters does it take to change a light bulb?
"Sod you! That's the electrician's job."

How many cashiers does it take to change a light bulb?
"Are you kidding? They won't even change a five dollar bill."

How many civil servants does it take to change a light bulb?
Twelve. One to change the bulb, and eleven to do the paperwork.

How many film directors does it take to change a light bulb?
Just one, but he wants to do it thirty-two times and when he's done, everyone says that his last light bulb was much better.

How many fishermen does it take to change a light bulb?
One, but you should have seen the bulb, it must have been THIS big.

How many librarians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
"I don't know, but I can look it up for you."

How many social scientists does it take to change a light bulb?
None. Social scientists do not change light bulbs; they search for the root cause as to why the last one went out.

How many mainstream economists does it take to change a light bulb?
Two. One to change the bulb and the other to assume the existence of a ladder.

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